Drexel Wins First CAA Championship 64-58 Over James Madison
Gabriela Marginean led the Drexel Dragons to their first CAA Tournament Championship ever with a 64-58 win over James Madison on the Dukes’ home court. The Dragons (24-8) completed their run through the tournament as the No. 1 seed following a regular-season conference championship. Drexel will advance to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in team history by earning the conference’s automatic bid. Marginean led Drexel with 26 points, she shot 14-14 from the free-throw line and knocked down 10 straight in the final minute and a half to hold of James Madison’s furious rally.
Marginean earned tournament MVP honors and, along with Jasmina Rosseel and Andrea Peterson, she earned a place on the All-Tournament Team. Both Marginean and James Madison’s Dawn Evans scored 26 points in the game. Marginean put in 21 of her 26 in the second half, while Evans scored 17 of her 26 in the final 4:15 of the game after the Dragons had rendered her scoreless for much of the second period.
Drexel made 30-of-38 from the line, setting season highs in both categories to compensate for a 34.9 shooting performance from the field. Freshman Tyler Hale led the team in rebounding for the second straight game, coming off the bench to pull down seven boards. Senior Andrea Peterson had a strong all-around game. She scored seven points to go with five rebounds an assist and a team-high four steals. Freshman Marisa Crane chipped in eight points and Jasmina Rosseel added seven points, including two three-pointers. The sophomore tied Drexel’s single-season three-pointer record, matching the mark of 87 threes set by Narissa Suber in the 2005-06 season.
James Madison built a 14-7 lead early thanks to the hot shooting of Dawn Evans from distance. The Duke appeared poised to build on its lead when Gabriela Marginean contracted her second foul midway through the half and took a seat on the bench soon after. But with their leading scorer on the bench, the other Dragons launched a 10-0 rally to take a 22-16 lead on a layup by Brooke Cornish at the 5:05 mark. The Dragons’ defense held James Madison off the scoreboard for more than five minute while the Dragons mounted their lead. Drexel pushed its lead to as much as nine points in the period before entering the locker room with a 28-22 advantage.
Despite sitting out the first period, Marginean reminded the Dukes of her presence in the game by swiping a steal on the wing and sprinting the length of the court for a break-away layup to open the period. But Marginean was whistled for her third foul of the game just under four minutes in when a scramble for a loose ball resulted in a reaching call. When she took a seat on the bench minutes later, senior Nicole Hester stepped up to provide scoring in her place. She deflated the Dukes by knocking down a free throw and, after the Dragons gathered the offensive rebound, she drilled a three-pointer to make it a 42-28 Drexel lead.
The Dragons led by as many as 16 points midway through the period, which would be their largest lead of the game. James Madison put up a battle in front of its home fans, cutting Drexel’s lead to six points with three minutes remaining. But Marginean shot 10-for-10 from the free-throw stripe in the final minute and half.
Dawn Evans, who had been held off the scoreboard until the 4:15 mark in the period, knocked down a pair of three-pointers and craftily drew two trips to the line for a trio of free-throws following fouls on deep shots. Evans scored 17 points in the final four minutes of play to keep her team within striking distance.
But Drexel’s steady free-throw shooting held off the Dukes. Drexel knocked down 14 from the charity stripe in the last minute and a half, led by Marginean’s 10 straight free throws. Marginean became Drexel’s first CAA Tournament Most Valuable Player by a vote from the media covering the tournament.
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